Polyamory means "many loves," and that's literally what this relationship style is. It's where one person has multiple romantic partners. There are many different configurations of Polyamorous relationships. For example, one couple might individually branch out with other partners, or there might be one person involved who has two partners, or there might be a relationship where everyone involved maintains romantic relationships with one another. There are countless other configurations of these kinds of relationships, but they all fall under Polyamory.
Let's get a couple of things out of the way: No, polyamory is not cheating. No, polyamory isn't a new trendy fad No, polyamory is not another word for an open relationship (the inspiration for Wonder Woman came from the creator's, William Moulton Marston, polyamorous relationship in 1941). And no, polyamory is not swinging. Unlike open relationships and swinging, polyamory is not sex focused. Polyamory, meaning "many loves," is about just that: Love.
If you're asking if you are Poly, I can't tell you that. You can only figure that out for yourself. However, one way to start thinking on the topic is to think about what your feelings might be if your partner desired another relationship in addition to yours.
If you think your Poly or know you are and are new to this relationship style, here are a couple significant do's and don'ts to keep in mind if you want your relationships to be successful.
Communication is more crucial than ever when you're in a polyamorous relationship. Across the board, there tends to be plenty of hiccups when it comes to communication in monogamous relationships, which just means that communication becomes even more important as the number of partners increases.
To keep your relationships moving in a positive direction, you need to be able to be completely open and honest about your feelings. Feelings can become hurt or confusing when you are in a poly relationship, so as soon as you feel like something is amiss communicate with your partner(s) and try to work things out.
And communication doesn't only apply to the negative! If you are feeling particularly thankful for you partner or are in an elated mood, tell your partner(s)!
In a polyamorous relationship, just like any relationship, it is only natural for things to become complicated. The important thing is that you do not allow these issues to fester. More partners make room for more complications as more feelings and egos are vulnerable. Make sure you tackle issues as immediately as possible to keep your relationships healthy.
If you allow problems such as jealousy or hurt feelings to fester into resentment, they are going to be nearly impossible to resolve. In the interest of your relationship(s) be willing to recognize a problem when you see it and start a dialogue.
If you are thinking about polyamory as a sexually focused practice, you might have a difficult time recognizing that cheating is still possible within these relationships.
Polyamory is entirely about love and deeper connection; sex is something that comes second to that - just like it would in your average, everyday monogamous relationship. Love comes first. Polyamory requires everyone involved to be open, honest, and everything to be done with the knowledge and consent of others. These qualities are a part of the fabric of polyamory and are quite literally apart of the fabric of the polyamorous flag as the blue stripe is ment to represent openness and honesty among partners. If you are doing something without the knowledge and consent of your other partners, you are cheating.
Just because you are open to having other relationships and/or - depending on the preferences of those involved - sexual encounters with other people doesn't mean you can go out and have those relationships/sexual encounters without telling your partner(s)!
If you couldn't bring that person to dinner without causing problems, then you are probably cheating.
While you may be living your best life in a Poly relationship, it's important to remember to put yourself first sometimes. One of the worst things about relationships, not just Poly relationships, is that you can lose sight of yourself and neglect your own self-care. It can be amazing and fulfilling to have multiple partners. However, it can also be draining at times. So if you are feeling a little drained take an evening - or a few days - to practice some serious self-care.
And if you're feeling drained, don't be afraid to ask for a little extra attention from your partner(s). To harken back to the importance of communication, you can't expect your partners to read your mind and automatically know what you need at all times. So don't be afraid to ask for what you need.
Don't be worried about seeming clingy or needy, by recognizing what you need and asking your partner to fill that need you are showing some serious emotional maturity.
One of the most important facets of any relationship is the ability and diligence to set boundaries. Boundaries become even more important as you introduce more people into your love-life.
As your feelings develop and change, so will your boundaries. So make sure that you are clear when you set limits and be good about adjusting them as needed. If you feel like you need to adapt a boundary that you have previously set with your partner(s), then do so as soon as possible to prevent hurt feelings.
It is important in any realtionship to be conscious of and understand your boundaries as well as your partner(s)'.
While you might think that if you're poly, you should always have multiple partners, this is not true especially if your base relationship is not healthy. IF you do not have a healthy relationship and strong trust between you and your partner do not - I repeat, do not - add another relationship to the mix.
This leave so much room for failure. If you cannot have one healthy relationship, you should not try to have more than one relationship. Introducing another is a selfish and reckless move to make as you are leaving yourself, and your partners, open to getting hurt.
Do some maintenance on your current relationship before you even dare to bring another person into the fold. It's not fair to neglect your current relationship while you start another. It also might be a sign that your partner is a total creep deep down if he wants to bring another partner into a failing relationship for mostly sexual reasons.
It is important to understand that people love in different ways. So when you introduce another partner into the situation, know that you cannot love any two partners in the same way.
Everyone loves and needs to be loved differently, which is the beauty of polyamory! These relationships will all be different from one another, and you should take joy in that.
Go forth and love more (responsibly).